Maui Girl Cooks

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” Luciano Pavarotti


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Salad for breakfast? Yes, please!

I’m fairly certain that I have endorsed salad and other “non-breakfast foods” elsewhere on my blog.  But if you missed it, here it is again.  I can and will happily eat most anything.

I like to start my day with healthy & delicious food.  Getting a head start on the day’s vegetables isn’t a bad idea either.

Today, I had one of my favorite breakfast salads, including an ingredient I’ve never used on salad.  Actually, I haven’t used a lot of chia seeds, but I am trying to incorporate them into our food more often.  Not sure I can get into the gelatinous texture that chia provides when allowed to sit and gel, but they were great on my salad.

You’ll need a fork and a spoon for this dish-a fork for the salad on top, and a spoon to scrape up the delicious yogurt at the bottom of the bowl.  The yogurt mingles with your dressing, and any other flavors that make their way downward.

You can build a breakfast salad any way you like, including adding an egg on top, which I didn’t do this time, but it is delicious.  This is the salad I created this morning…

Breakfast salad, green tea, ry-vita

Yogurt on the Bottom Breakfast Salad 

Nancy’s Whole Milk Plain Organic Yogurt- a few spoonfuls, no more than 1/4 cup

Salad greens-I used curly green leaf & baby beet greens

Onion- thinly sliced pole to pole {my favorite cut for salad}

Tomatoes- I used cherry tomatoes from my lanai garden

Avocado- as much as you like

Fresh herbs- I used tarragon, dill & cilantro from my lanai garden

Fruit- I used 2 dried plums {a.k.a. prunes}

Freshly ground salt & pepper

Red wine vinegar {or your favorite vinegar}

Extra virgin olive oil

Plop a few spoonfuls of yogurt at the bottom of your bowl-if you put too much, it can overwhelm your salad.

Add greens, onion, tomatoes, avocado & fresh herbs.  Season with freshly ground salt & pepper.  Drizzle red wine vinegar and olive oil over all.  Garnish with a few prunes, admire your creation & enjoy with toast, or a Ry-Vita buttered with organic pasture butter and tea as I did.

Bottom of bowl yogurt breakfast salad

Bon appetit!

 

 

 

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Eggplant Tricolore

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“Gleaming skin;  a plump elongated shape;  the eggplant is a vegetable you’d want to caress with your eyes and fingers, even if you didn’t know its luscious flavor.”  by Roger Verge

Although it is a vegetable {actually, it is a fruit, but that’s another discussion} with varied preparations, eggplant parmigiana is the quintessential eggplant dish for many, however it is not one of my favorite ways to enjoy eggplant.  My mom used to sauté eggplant slices until they were golden brown, and I loved eating them with catsup {not a kid thing…I still love catsup & so does my husband}. Sometimes I roast thick slices of eggplant & happily enjoy them dipped into organic catsup.  I prefer Italian Globe eggplants, over the other slender varieties {Thai, Indian, Japanese, etc.}.

Eggplant is one of those foods that, I suspect, prompts strong feelings.  While I have not researched this matter, I think people tend to love or hate eggplant.  The Flavor Bible {have you seen this book yet?} describes eggplant’s taste as “bitter,” a taste which does not have as many fans as sweet, salty, sour, etc.

Many years ago, Erika, a friend & coworker, introduced me to vegetarian food by way of Laurel’s Kitchen, a book from which I prepared & enjoyed many dishes.  In fact, it was my “go to” cookbook for a long time.  I made Laurel’s falafel recipe & had my first taste of Middle Eastern food, which I now consider the cuisine I most want to eat.  Which brings me back to eggplant.  One of my new favorite ways of enjoying eggplant comes from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Plenty.  It is quick to make, stunning on a platter & super delicious.  Regardless of your feelings toward eggplant, I am of the opinion that you should make this recipe; just try it.  I think Eggplant Tricolore may have the power to turn you into a lover of eggplant.  Perhaps the dressing balances the eggplant’s inherent bitterness, which makes this a dish that goes down easily, like a fine wine.  My husband & I can polish off 2 eggplants in one sitting!

If you make this, snap a photo & send it with a comment on how you liked it.

Eggplant slices ready for roasting

Eggplant Slices Ready for Roasting

Roasted eggplant slices

Roasted Eggplant Slices

Eggplant Tricolore 2

Eggplant Tricolore

Eggplant Tricolore {and more}
adapted from Plenty {Ottolenghi}

2-3 medium eggplants {preferably Italian globe variety}

olive oil

Maldon sea salt & black pepper

1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 3/8” dice

10 cherry tomatoes, quartered

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

3 1/2 tbsp capers, plus 1 tbsp of the caper brine

5 oz. top-quality buffalo mozzarella

1 cup picked coriander {cilantro} leaves

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cut the eggplants widthwise into 3/4-inch-thick slices.  Place the slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil.  Brush them generously on both sides with plenty of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven for 25”-35,” or until the eggplants are soft and golden brown.  Allow to cool down.

Mix together the bell pepper, tomatoes, vinegar, capers, caper brine and 2 tbsp of olive oil.  Set aside for at least 30” {the mix can be kept refrigerated for several days; the flavors will deepen over time}.

To serve, arrange the eggplant slices, slightly overlapping, on a serving dish {a meat platter is the perfect size for 2 medium eggplants}.  Break the cheese up and scatter on top.  Spoon over the dressing and scatter with the cilantro.  Enjoy!

Notes:

  • I always use extra virgin olive oil
  • I always use freshly ground pepper
  • Maldon salt is worth seeking out, but you can substitute another crunchy salt such as Fleur de Sel
  • yellow or orange peppers work best color-wise, but use what you have
  • I have used tomatoes other than cherry tomatoes, with excellent results
  • The eggplant can be roasted up to a day ahead and refrigerated
  • I have always used lebni {Lebanese kefir cheese} instead of mozzarella & it is delicious.  Soft goat cheese would also be delicious!
  • Salting eggplant for 30” or so is supposed to draw out the bitterness, but I usually do not do this.  Possibly this is valuable for older eggplants with large seeds, but ours come from the farmers’ market and are recently picked.
  • You can use fresh basil instead of cilantro if you desire
  • This is great with a glass of red wine!

Eggplant Tricolore 1

Bon appetit!

This gallery contains 5 photos

salad with mango and vanilla vinaigrette


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A Splash of Vanilla in Your Salad

There are 4 basic tastes that come together to provide us with pleasure {hopefully} in the food we eat:  salty, sweet, bitter and sour.  There is also a savory taste, a fifth taste, known as umami.  Foods rich in umami include mushrooms, tomato paste, anchovies and green tea, among others.  Adding umami rich foods to a dish can elevate it to a new level, even though no one would ever be able to pick out that ingredient {for example, anchovies}.  How many people who love Caesar Salad know that there are anchovies in the dressing?  Many ingredients we add to our recipes are not in-your-face flavors, but are subtle, adding a layer that makes a difference in the final dish.

Desserts aside, I normally would not choose to eat something sweet over something savory.  While I can eat an alarming amount of chocolate frosting or brownie batter, I prefer a flavor profile that includes sour, bitter and salty over sweet. I enjoy a tart salad dressing, and when I make vinaigrettes, I am liberal with the vinegar, not adhering to the usual guideline of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil.  But I was thinking about vanilla the other day, and wondering how it would taste in a vinaigrette.  I found a recipe online for Vanilla Vinaigrette and tried it out on a green salad that included mango and avocado.  Consider me hooked on Vanilla Vinaigrette.  It not only has a great alliterative name, but tastes fantastic, adding a slightly sweet and tropical flavor when drizzled over the right salad.  Vanilla Vinaigrette isn’t for just any salad, but it is wonderful on salads that include fruit.  Fruit salads aren’t usually on my radar screen;  I love fruit, and don’t make fruit salads per se, but include fruit on many of our green salads.  What makes Vanilla Vinaigrette work is its subtle sweetness that mingles with the fruit. The fruits that work best with this dressing are tropical fruits and summer fruits, avocado included.  I love avocados, particularly the way they gently break down and become a part of the dressing.Green Salad with Mango & Vanilla Vinaigrette

As you can see in the picture, we added a bit of protein to our salad, in the form of a hard cooked egg.  I saw someone eating a hard cooked egg the other day, and the inside was atrocious, with an ugly gray-green ring around the yolk, so I thought I’d include the directions I use for making eggs with beautiful yellow yolks.

Hard Cooked Eggs
recipe from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

Put eggs in a single layer in a saucepan with a cover.  Bring them to a gentle boil {uncovered} and boil for 1 minute.  Turn off the heat, cover and let stand for 6 minutes.  If you are going to use them later, put eggs into an ice bath to stop cooking.  Otherwise, peel and enjoy warm with a bit of salt and pepper.

Vanilla Vinaigrette
adapted from Food.com

3 tbsp white wine vinegar {champagne vinegar also good}

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tsp sugar {original recipe called for 1 tbsp}- add more or less to suit your taste

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together until well blended.

Notes:

  • I have always used romaine with this dressing, but a Manoa, Bibb or Butter lettuce would be fantastic.
  • Mangoes, lilikoi {passion fruit}, blueberries, stone fruit and avocado are all delicious!
  • Some herbs that work well are basil, mint, tarragon and cilantro.
  • Sweet onions are always a nice touch, and pretty as well.
  • Chopped macadamia nuts that have been lightly toasted in coconut oil & salted make a delicious crunchy topping!

Bon appetit!


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Breakfast Salad with Creamy Dressing

I’ll begin with a few “ifs” before I tell you about one of my favorite breakfasts.  If you are among those who can only eat “breakfast food” for breakfast, consider making this for lunch or dinner.  Personally, any good food qualifies as potential breakfast food, though I have never warmed up to cold pizza, which seems to have quite a following.  If your mornings are chillycold, freezing, and a hot and hearty breakfast is what you require, put this one in your pocket for spring and summer.  If you enjoy plain yogurt, healthy and delicious, and teeming with live active cultures {so good for you!}, consider using it as a creamy component for your breakfast salad’s dressing.  Yes, I said breakfast salad.  I love getting a head start on healthy eating by enjoying a breakfast that includes vegetables {and I much prefer savory flavors to sweet}. Using yogurt in this way is something I came up within the last 3 years or so.  I came up with it partly because I have always loved eating falafels with plain yogurt, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cilantro and a squeeze of lemon {so delicious!!}.  The other thing that got me thinking about plain yogurt as part of a vinaigrette is that my Aunt Debbie, who is so close in age that she is more like my sister, mixes in a little plain yogurt when she tosses a green salad, in addition to an oil and vinegar based dressing.  Adding plain yogurt is a great way to enjoy creamily dressed salads without feeling like you’ve gone over the top calorie-wise, not that there isn’t a time or place for that.  I love going over the top every now and then! Anyway, this is somewhat of a blueprint, rather than a recipe.  Put it together however you like, with whatever vegetables you have on hand.  It will be great and your body will thank you for starting the day off with delicious healthy food.

Vegetables on cutting board

Yogurt

Yogurt with lettuce

Dressed salad on yogurt

Closeup of Dressed Salad

Yogurt salad bowl

You may need a spoon

 

Breakfast Salad with Creamy Dressing

Put some plain yogurt in the bottom of your bowl.  Top with lettuce, fresh or sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives, quartered artichoke hearts, thinly sliced fresh  jalapeños and thinly sliced onions.  Season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle with red wine vinegar & extra virgin olive oil.

Notes:

  • I use Kirkland artichoke hearts packed in water.  If you have oil packed, I suggest patting off as much of the marinade as you can with a paper towel.
  • Use whatever plain yogurt you like, but make sure it has live active cultures for the health benefits.  Any level of fat is fine, although whole milk yogurt can be a bit rich with the olive oil.  We like Nancy’s Organic Yogurt.
  • Use whatever kind of vinegar you like and have in your pantry, but not too much. . .just a few splashes.
  • Use good extra virgin olive oil, but not too much. . .just a drizzle.
  • Fresh herbs are always a great addition!
  • We buy the sun dried tomatoes in olive oil at Costco.  I have never been a fan of the herbs in these tomatoes, because they taste too strong to me.  I recently discovered a way to prep these tomatoes which I think makes them taste better.  I put the quantity of tomatoes I think I’ll use over the course of the week in a bowl, then cover them with boiling water.  Let them stand for 5” or so, and then drain them on a paper towel.  Blot them to get most of the moisture off & store them in a jar or other covered container.
  • Do not be tempted to put too much yogurt in the bowl, as it will be too soupy.  I put about a 1/2 cup at the most.
  • I do not mix everything before I eat it.  It is just like a regular green salad when you start eating, but then you get some of the yogurt and it becomes a salad with a creamy dressing.

Bon appetit!


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A Double Rainbow and a Delicious Salad

Our morning began with the required glass of Freshly Pressed Ginger Kombucha, then a relaxing stroll on Baldwin Beach in Paia, which is about 15 minutes down the slope of Haleakala from our home.  Lifeguards were not yet on duty, and we shared the beach with fewer than two dozen early risers who wished to start their day with a soundtrack of gentle waves crashing and then receding into the vast Pacific.  The temperature was somewhere in the high 70s, with the perfect level of skin caressing breeze.  A double rainbow spanned the western sky, although the second one was camouflaged by clouds.

double rainbow at Baldwin

Of course, there were the usual dogs running willy nilly, some playing in the salty ocean, and others happily chasing each other in the sand {How did I not photograph the dogs??}.  My husband spotted one of those fluorescent green tennis balls in the sand, which he donated to a lucky dog who passed by at just the right moment; the dog, whose mannerisms reminded us of our dog Max {an Australian shepherd who passed away a few years ago}, was delighted by his good fortune.  It’s a little over two miles to walk the entire beach. . .I highly recommend it if you are in the neighborhood.

Looking north at Baldwin

After our walk, we went for coffee at Maui Coffee Roasters in Kahului.  My husband has a number of free drinks on his card, so that was the perfect way to top off our walk.

Next stop was home for breakfast.  I’ve shared my breakfast salads with you before, and for those of you who are okay with eating salad for breakfast, this one is a winner.  My husband bought some gorgeous beets from the farmers’ market last Saturday, so those definitely had a place in the salad.  There are blueberries in the freezer, which play nicely with beets and goat cheese, so in they went.  And there is more. . .

This is more of a guideline than a recipe, so play around with ingredients & make it your own.  For me, the key components are the beets, berries, goat cheese and nuts.  The black currant balsamic adds a lovely fruitiness which I highly recommend, if you can get your hands on some.  This shouldn’t be difficult, because it seems that olive oil and vinegar tasting stores are cropping up all around.  I read about such a place here on Maui, Wailea to be exact, several months ago in our local paper.  The first one I visited, however, was in Port Townsend, WA.  We moved to Maui in the summer of 2011, but I had not gone back to visit until this year, when I went twice in two months.  What fun I had!  Anyway, in Port Townsend, there it was, this fabulous store {Lively Olive} that had kegs of extra virgin olive oils and vinegars begging to be tasted.  I love vinegar and olive oil, so I was thrilled to stumble upon this place.  I brought home a bottle each of Blenheim apricot white balsamic and black currant balsamic.  I thought the black currant would be great with the blueberries and it did not disappoint.  After returning home, I thought I should visit the store in Wailea {Fustini’s Oils and Vinegars}.  The sales people were offering up all kinds of deliciousness in the form of taste combinations:  coconut balsamic + Persian lime extra virgin olive oil was the one I was particularly smitten with, so I purchased the coconut balsamic.  I decided I would make my own lime olive oil, and make some kind of salad that involved soft Manoa lettuce, sweet onion and mango, among other things.  If you are a Hawaii resident, Fustini’s offers a kamaaina discount!  Feel free to use another vinegar if you can’t find black currant balsamic. . .I’m sure your salad will be delicious!

plate salad with beets, goat cheese

Beet, Blueberry & Goat Cheese Salad with Black Currant Vinaigrette

Salad greens, washed & thoroughly dried {I used kale and romaine}

Beets, cooked, peeled and diced

Blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed if frozen

Onions, thinly sliced

Fresh herbs, torn or julienned {I used basil and mint}

Soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled

Walnuts, toasted & broken

Eggs, prepared however you like them, optional

Extra virgin olive oil

Black Currant Balsamic

Salt & freshly ground pepper

I like to build meal size salads on a dinner plate, but you can use whatever you like.  The lettuce goes down first, and is topped by the fresh herbs.  Add beets, blueberries, onions and goat cheese.  Top with walnuts, salt and pepper.  Drizzle salad with black currant balsamic and olive oil.  If you are putting an egg on your salad, add it right now.  Enjoy!

plate salad with eggs

Bon appetit!


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French Green Lentils with Greens, Goat Cheese & Red Wine Vinegar

There are occasions when I just don’t know what I want for breakfast.  This phenomenon does not occur for lunch or dinner; just breakfast.  My husband doesn’t understand it; he eats the same yogurt most mornings, except the days when we make eggs or maybe hot cereal.  I’ve never been one to eat the same thing everyday for any meal; there is too much delicious food out there to limit oneself to the same meal all the time.  Lately I have not been into what most people call “breakfast food.”  Any food qualifies as breakfast food as far as I’m concerned, the exception being cold pizza.  I don’t know what percent of the population loves cold pizza, but I am not in their company.  The draw to cold pizza, with its cold, solidified cheese escapes me.  Anyway, one of my new favorite breakfasts, a meal which will also make appearances at lunch and dinner, is this salad of French green lentils topped with greens, goat cheese & wine vinegar.  The only improvement I could have made would be the addition of a delicious slice of chewy, whole grain bread with butter {of course!}.

Lentils are quick cooking and healthy.  French green lentils are my lentil of choice, because they are shiny green and gorgeous and they hold their shape after cooking.  This makes them a great choice for salads because they do not become mushy.  Note:  “This just in from David Lebovitz’s wonderful food blog. . .”  Check out David’s take on Lentilles du Puy, the caviar of lentils.  During the writing of this post, I decided to find out if there is a difference between French green lentils and lentils du Puy, and according to David Lebovitz, whom I trust implicitly, there is indeed a huge difference.  I’m thinking that I may not have the caviar of lentils here in my kitchen, but instead their less desirable cousin.  Still delicious, I will use them up and then buy the real Mccoy.  No worries!

This salad goes together quickly if you have a bowl of already cooked lentils in your refrigerator.  And as you are eating it, you have the delightful surprise of finding warm, delicious and buttery lentils under those crispy greens!

closeup lentils 2

French Green Lentils

1 1/2 cups French green lentils, or lentils du Puy, sorted and rinsed {make sure there are no rocks or bad lentils}
2 bay leaves
1 tsp salt

Put lentils into a medium saucepan with bay leaves and salt.  Bring to a boil & then lower heat to a simmer.  Cook, uncovered, until the lentils are tender, but still hold their shape.  If you prefer, drain off any water that is not absorbed during cooking, but I usually keep it with the lentils as it is a tasty broth.  Lentils cook quickly, and will be tender in about 25 minutes.

 

French green lentil salad 2

French Green Lentils with Greens, Goat Cheese and Red Wine Vinegar

Warm cooked lentils
Butter
Freshly ground pepper
Greens, washed and spun dry
Fresh herbs {basil, parsley or whatever you like and have on hand}
Soft fresh goat cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
Red wine vinegar
Freshly ground salt and pepper

Put some warm lentils in a bowl {I used about 3/4 cup lentils for myself}.  Add a pat of butter and freshly ground pepper.  Stir to melt and distribute the butter.  Top with greens and herbs.  Season with salt and pepper.  Crumble some soft goat cheese over and drizzle with red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.  Eat now. . .yum!

French green lentil salad 3

Bon appétit!

 


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Mixed Greens Salad with Roasted Beets, Goat Cheese & Walnuts

Apologies for the extended hiatus from this blog!!  When I saw the date of my last post…GASP!  I knew it had been a while, but I didn’t realize that I had been away for almost 2 months.  I did take a trip to the Mainland, which I will share soon, but that was only 10 days.  As I have mentioned before, time gets away from me on an almost daily basis, so there you have it.  And on to salad!

I love salads of all kinds, and can eat them any time of the day.  Salad for breakfast?  No problem!  This salad is simple, quick to assemble and delicious.  What made it so good was the combination of roasted beets, creamy goat cheese and walnuts.  Dress with a homemade vinaigrette {recipe from my friend Barb} and enjoy.  It doesn’t require many ingredients or much effort to create a tasty salad dressing, sans additives that you probably don’t want.

Beet, Goat Cheese and Walnut Salad 2

Mixed Greens Salad with Roasted Beets, Goat Cheese & Walnuts

Mixed greens, washed and spun dry
Roasted beets {you can use steamed beets if you prefer}
Onion, thinly sliced {sweet or red onions are good here}
Soft fresh goat cheese
Walnuts, broken
Salt & freshly ground pepper

Put mixed greens of your choice into a bowl or plate {I used arugula and romaine}.  Top with roasted beets, onions, goat cheese and broken walnuts.  If you have some whole walnut halves, put one on top for a pretty garnish.  Season salad with salt and pepper and drizzle with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Roasted Beets
{from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone}

Peel 2 large beets and cut into 1/2 inch dice
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place diced beets on a foil-lined sheet pan, so they are not over-crowded {or they will steam instead of roast}.  Toss beets with just enough olive oil to lightly coat {too much oil will yield greasy beets}.  Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.  Roast the beets for 25-30 minutes, until the juices begin to caramelize and the beets are tender but firm.

 

Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp Meyer lemon juice {regular lemon is fine}
3 tbsp maple syrup or brown sugar

Combine all ingredients in a jar & shake to blend.

Notes:

  • On my trip to Washington State, I had a salad almost identical to this one, but it included fresh blueberries.  I highly recommend the addition of berries to this salad.
  • I am a huge fan of maple syrup, so I generally use it over brown sugar.

Bon appétit!